Though its recent surge into collective global pop consciousness could be credited as the incentive for Dominican dembow takes on baile funk, the hybridized evolution hardly seems coincidental. By the time J Balvin, Future, Stefflon Don, and Juan Magan hopped on the genre with their remix of MC Fioti’s “Bum Bum Tam Tam,” the tamborzão-driven genre’s intersection with adjacent genres had been explored in depth in the underground-pop praxis, as shown by the likes of Asmara & Venus X’s Putaria Máxima mixtapes, or Diplo positioning himself as an ambassador (or more accurately, colonizer) of the genre as far back as 2004.
As the genre continues to expand into a more global awareness, now we’re seeing Dominican artists putting their own spin on Brazil’s baile funk traditions, a turn perhaps foreshadowed by potent brass-heavy melodic hooks in the likes of Chimbala’s “Maniqui” and El Alfa’s “Suave.” Traditionally powered by 808 drum machines, MCs, and samplers, baile funk is as much an articulation of the right to high-decibel expression as it is an rejection of classism in music culture.
According to NYC-based, Rio de Janeiro-rooted Afro-Latina selector Moniki, who’s been making rounds across the city with her own Internationally Known parties and frequent appearances at Everyday People, iBomba, and beyond, she’s not so surprised by the hybridization. As conversations continue around Dominicanness and Blackness as often overlapping identities, dembow artists’ exploration of baile funk could be seen as another embrace of Black identity and culture. “I think nothing is original,” she commented, going on to say, “We are all inspired by others. As long as the roots are acknowledged, it’s a beautiful thing.”
With DR being the first port of entry of slaves in the Americas, and also the site of the first slave revolt, and Brazil being home to the largest Black population outside of the African continent, baile funk’s ubiquity is perhaps a transnational resonance of this connection through music. This dialogue is supported by viral YouTube content as baile funk hits are flipped to a Spanish-language counterpart, much as we saw a few years back with the hip-hop remix foreshadowing bilingual trap music taking over the top of the charts (check Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin’s “I Like It” as a prime example).
Whereas reggaetón and bilingual trap has rightfully undergone criticism for whitewashing with lighter-skinned representatives in the spotlight, the baile-funk-to-dembow connection does the opposite, with music as the mediator for embracing the genres’ histories as cousins not only in soundsystem cultures, but also in Black migration.
Check some of our favorite tracks tracing this connection below.
Amara La Negra – "AYY"
Years ahead of the YouTube-powered trend, the queen Amara La Negra brought us “AYY,” a cover of Mulher Melancia’s “Velocidade 6” that doubles as a PR-DR urbano Voltron with Los Pepe (Doble T y El Crok), Jowell y Randy, and RickyLindo featured on the track.
Dixson Waz – "Bum Bum Tam Tam"
In its short time on Earth, “Bum Bum Tam Tam” has seen several iterations – first with Brazil’s MC Fioti, then with a high-visibility remix that added Future, J Balvin, Stefflon Don, and Juan Magan to the mix. Dixson Waz pays homage to the minimalist original with a localized “Mueve Ese Chapón” twist.
DJ Scuff – "Plakiti"
The Soundcloud page of Santo Domingo’s DJ Scuff could be considered an oracle of what’s to come next in música urbana. Though it’s over a year old, “Plakiti” still offers a glimpse at what’s to come: a high-powered track forgoing the recent relatively low-key, vocalist-dominated direction of baile funk to instead focus on frantic horn lines and breaks.
DJ Lobo ft. Ceky Viciny x Tali Goya – "Mete Mete"
Presented by tastemaker and the extremely generous app mastermind DJ Lobo, Ceky Viciny and Tali Goya deliver a flip of Brazil’s MC Zaac and MC Jerry’s 2016 hit “Bumbum Granada.” The video treatment takes us to rooftops back on the island, complete with “tra” flourishes over the slightly modified funk carioca beat.
Tali Goya – "Gozza Gozza"
Tiger Gang rises again. Tali Goya is not short on sound system-prepped bangers, but expect plenty of misogynistic lyrics. “Gozza Gozza” did start out implying change with the opening lines “desde que te ví/ me alumbraste el mundo,” though it quickly shifted into standard Tali Goya fare over a haunting minor key melody.
DJ Mariposa ft. DJ Scuff – "Yo Te Lo Pongo a Mover"
Dropping in February of this year, DJ Scuff’s Nueva Vaina brand returns, this time teaming up with Santo Domingo talent DJ Mariposa for “Yo Te Lo Pongo a Mover.” Another hard-hitting, mostly instrumental breaks track, the single features a broader vocal sample register, which one can only guess comes from the voices of the two DJ-producers.
El Pote – "Bumbum Granada" (Remix)
Another take on a “Bumbum Granada” flip, frequent Lápiz Conciente collaborator El Pote’s “bomba bomba bum” and “teke teke” chants and verses delivered in a calm monotone has already racked up a smooth 13 million views despite the artist having a decidedly lower profile than the contemporaries that appear on this list.
DJ Scuff – "Toma"
As a producer, DJ Scuff clearly has an ear out for the dancers, often foregoing verses to focus strictly on the beat. With a slick tempo shift fit for the urbano gods, the cowbell-heavy “Toma” takes you from standard baile funk 130bpm to a slow-whining 102bpm with a “Nueva Vaina” vocal tag dropped in to split the difference.
Tali Goya – "Eh Mami"
Released in May, Papi Goya returns with “Eh Mami,” a clear delineation of the evolution of baile funk at a crossroads with hip-hop, breaking into a trap-carioca hybrid beat for the last 30 seconds of the single. With the “eh mami/sí papi” call-and-response, Goya drops an easily-memorizable, beautiful mutant of a track that’s perhaps a nod for the next cross-pollination moves of the genres.